How to create Debian unstable iso images

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Revision as of 11:27, 22 December 2015 by Deller (Talk | contribs)

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PA-RISC is not any longer an official Debian distribution and as such, Debian ISO install images are not produced any longer by the Debian developers.

This website describes the basic steps how you can create such images yourself. The instructions should - with minor modifcations - work for other architectures like alpha or sparc too.


What you need to know

Prebuilt debian unstable packages are available at the repository at
In most cases it's not possible to install from the debian ports repository, because
  1. it is a moving target, which means that the Linux kernel udeb packages which are needed by the kernel on the ISO/liffile may not be available any longer at a later date, and
  2. the bootloader (e.g. palo for parisc, aboot for alpha, silo for sparc) is not available there (because those architectures are not any longer release architectures, so the bootloaders are not being built any long), and
  3. the partitioning tools during installation for the architecture might be missing for the same reason (e.g. partman-palo for parisc).

Basic steps

  1. Create a local copy of the debian-ports repository
  2. Build the debian-installer packages
  3. Add missing boot loader / partitioning tools packages to the repository
  4. Build the final iso image

Create a local copy of the debian-ports repository

  1. Install reprepro (apt-get install reprepro)
  2. Create a directory which will hold the copied packages (around 60 GB storage needed!)
 apt-get install reprepro
 mkdir -p /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 # now modify the files in conf/* to your needs
 # now run "reprepro update" to pull all files from debian-ports
 reprepro update

Build the debian-installer packages

  1. Read how to check out the debian installer. It's done below.
 apt-get install mr subversion
 mkdir -p /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/{TEMP,bootstrap,debian-cd}
 # See:
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/
 svn co svn:// debian-installer
 cd debian-installer
 mr -p checkout
 # check out other packes for your architecture into the packages directory
 # for a list see here:;pf=d-i
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/packages
 # for alpha:
 git clone
 git clone
 # for parisc:
 git clone
 git clone
 # for sparc:
 git clone
 # then build the debian-installer with all packages
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/installer

Add missing boot loader / partitioning tools packages to the repository

The architecture-specific packages (palo-installer, silo-installer, ...) were built above. Install them into your local reprepro archive directory

 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 reprepro includeudeb /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/packages/*udeb

Build your platform boot loader

Build palo, silo.... and install the deb as done above (use includedeb instead of includeudeb).

 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 reprepro includedeb <path_to_your_bootloader>

Prepare preseed.cfg configuration

The installer images mentioned above pull the debian packages from the repositories at
(for debian-7.0):
(for debian-8.0):
which contains only the minimal set of necessary files for installation.
This is realized by the preseed/url= Linux kernel parameter which is hardcoded in the palo bootloader code in those images.

Build the final iso image

We need debian-cd. See File:Debian-cd.diff.gz the diff which was used to build them for parisc.

 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER
 pushd debian-cd
 ./ NETINST alpha
 ./ CD alpha

Other prebuilt files for parisc:

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